The Uncomfortable Truth About Mobile Ecommerce & Adwords


So we’ve all had the *opportunity to move to enhanced campaigns. Enhanced campaigns of course got a big fanfare and yes, we all know the stats on local search and yes we know the growth in smartphones and mobile internet use generally. We have been pummelled for seemingly years on why we need mobile ecommerce strategies and the mobile bandwagon has rolled on and on and on.

Enhanced campaigns were welcome news for local advertisers giving more control and flexibility. For everyone else, the news was mixed. As it stands mobile remains the worst converting cpc traffic ecommerce retailers have in their Google portfolio.

Now I’m a massive AdWords fan. Have been from day one and will always advocate its use. Its the best form of advertising around bar none and primarily why I got involved with the industry many years ago. It’s incredibly transparent but if we are doing our job correctly, we must use that transparency to remain objective when spending client money.

The uncomfortable truth is mobile just doesn’t convert well for many ecommerce stores at the present time and if you want proof, try reading Dave Chaffeys take home point article from the Monetate Q1 2013 Ecommerce Quarterly



Mobile is struggling at the ROI level and unless you have serious product margin to play with, or can show that mobile is assisting conversions (which is not easy currently), you are in danger of losing money from mobile CPC advertising as it stands.

So whats this got to do with enhanced campaigns? Well enhanced campaigns undid what many advertisers had previously done – that is, turn off mobile CPC traffic altogether. In the Enhanced campaigns rollout (if left to Google) it was turned back on again.

For savvy advertisers, this just creates rework but perhaps by leaving the opportunity to set a -100% bid on mobile, there is at least an acknowledgement by Google of the conversion issues faced by online retailers. For less competent AdWords users, this may make it more difficult to play around with mobile generally.

If you read Dave Chaffeys article in full, then he suggests mobile being used for research rather than purchase and this could be the crucial knowledge gap to fully understanding the value of mobile. That said, the conversion gap between mobile and desktop is so wide that it would take a significant volume of assists to bridge the gap.

Going forward Google is giving us more tools to fully understand how mobile interacts in this process and that is something we are looking at closely in the office. At the moment we are using advanced segments, AdWords reports and MCF assists reports but are still evaluating the data we get back.

In the meantime, we recommend you check your mobile conversion rates and get familiar with bid adjusters!

*Well I say opportunity, I mean ultimatum really.